Dance Central 3
Xbox 360 (Kinect Required)
The Dance Central franchise not only shows what the Kinect is capable of, but also is also arguably the biggest reason to own the Kinect in the first place. The combination of fun music, impressive (and may I add REAL) dance choreography, along with the social aspect of the party mode has truly elevated what it means to be a dancing video game. Dance Central 3 recognizes the formula that has made the franchise a success in the past, while introducing a few new wrinkles to keep the part going, and the experience fresh.
New to this years installment is the story mode involving time travel. You'll be joining a secretive Dance intelligence agency (the DCI), which has been sending dancers back in time to stop the plans of the nefarious Dr. Tan. It's an absolutely preposterous story, one that would make the Step Up series snicker, but with its tongue firmly planted in cheek, actually works with the premise offered. What the story offers is the framework to add a variety of music from generations past, from disco, to Dance crazes of the 90's all the way up to current dance style. It's an eclectic mix of generational dances that adds a new layer to what had generally been modern hip-hop choreography, with a few visits back to the 90s.
While each new song has new choreography, the songs and choreo from Dance Central 1 & 2 being available to load into the newest game via a code in their previous games respective cases. Allowing you to make dance playlists of your favorite dances from the older games, along with the newest collection of songs. All this leads up to the crux of the game... the dancing. The Kinect does a very good job recognizing your ability to mirror the dance steps, though it's not perfect. The only real problem of Dance Central 3 (and the Dance Central series in general) is there are times when the kinect registers your movement as wrong, though only offering a red highlight to the onscreen body part you aren't matching up with, with no other real explanation with what exactly you are doing wrong. Issue aside, on the whole, Dance Central 3 does a fantastic job of matching up your movements with the choreography.
What's always been great about the Dance Central series has been its versatility. From being a fun party game with your friends to see who can embarrass themselves the most, to an actual tutor on dance moves (spend some time in practice mode, and if you truly want to, you can indeed perform true to life dance moves.) There really isn't a wrong way to play it. Dance Central 3 stays true to this, but adds new songs, new dances and new modes to keep it fresh. | RDW
NBA Baller Beats
Xbox 360 (Kinect Required)
NBA Baller Beats takes the rhythm game concept, and somewhat turns it on its ear by incorporating a real life basketball. Instead of matching an onscreen avatar dance move per dance move, you instead will be dribbling a basketball, and performing various ball-handling drills the beat of the music. This is both awesome and terrifying, because moreso than many kinect games... the proper playing space is ESSENTIAL.
First off, the concept of the game is an amalgamation of fundamental basketball drills, and rhythm games of the past. As you match your dribbling of the basketball to the onscreen beat, you are scored by how accurately you can keep beat (Think of the sound your dribbling makes as the drum beat of the song.) The songs themselves are well implemented, with slower songs being your intro and buildup to the faster songs that require more ball control. Add with things as crossovers, fake side passes, and fake jump shots, all set to music, and you've got a surprisingly well symbiosis between rhythm and basketball.
Alas there is a GIANT caveat. NBA Baller Beats requires a LOT of care to play. Unlike many motion games that require a peripheral, your basketball is completely untethered. Meaning, If you have bad handles, the basketball WILL go flying out of your hand, and if you're not careful, directly into something valuable. NBA Baller Beats is aware of this, and gives your warning prior to play, and you'd be best to heed its warning. On several occasions I lost control of the ball and it went flying... luckily though, not into anything important... but I still had to pick up my Blu-ray collection once I was done the first time I played. Consider yourself warned. Also consider the playing surface, while the game is indeed playable on carpet, its easy to see a hard surface would be optimal.
NBA Baller Beats offers an interesting premise, that when put into practice surprisingly works really well. Offering a fun way to practice Basketball fundamentals hasn't really been accomplished on this scale, and with this degree of success. The space issue on the other hand is truly out of the game's hands, so if you have the space (and roommates who are cool with you dribbling a basketball indoors) NBA Baller Beats is a novel experience. | RDW